Practical Tips from the Nurses: Achieving a Perfectly Full Bladder for Embryo Transfer or IUI

As you go through treatment with your fertility center, you may find that you are instructed to have a full bladder for some of your appointments. At Dominion Fertility, it has been our experience that patients often don’t know how full the bladder actually needs to be. We don’t want our patients to be horribly uncomfortable, but we also don’t want the procedure to be put on hold while we wait for the bladder to fill. It may seem a bit confusing, so here are some tips on achieving the perfectly full bladder.

What exactly is a “Full Bladder”?

If you feel the urge to urinate, you have probably ingested enough fluid and the bladder is full. You should feel full, not miserable. If you do not have the urge to urinate, you are probably not full enough. Keep drinking fluids. On the other hand, if you can hardly walk because of the discomfort, you are probably too full.

We generally recommend that you begin drinking fluids 2 hours prior to your scheduled appointment. Drink 64 ounces (8 good sized cups) of any fluid you like, and… hold it! A bladder takes time to fill, so if you don’t drink enough, you could be stuck in the office waiting, waiting, waiting to fill. On the flip side, if you arrive and your bladder is overfilled, we can simply have you empty little by little until it is the perfect size. This is not a big deal!

So, if you are going to an appointment for a Mock Cervical Check/, ET, IUI or embryo transfer, you must have a full bladder. If you are going to an appointment for daily routine monitoring or egg retrieval, you do not need to have a full bladder.

Of course, if there is an exception to needing a full / empty bladder, you will get instructions specific to your needs. So, ladies, drink up and fill up!

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Comment by AAF on September 3, 2009 at 6:48am
OK nurses, lab team, Dr. DiMattina and Dr. Gordon, this was one one of the hardest things for me to get right, for the mock ET I was not full enough, so I"m sure I contributed to the back up in the waiting room, and for the actual ET I was too full. It's just impossible to gauge how quickly ones kidneys are going to work. I know if there was another way, you smart folks wouldn't torture us this way, but I just have to vent. It was really difficult, but of course totally worth it.
Comment by Robin Webb R.N. on September 5, 2009 at 3:36am
Hi AAF, I hope your doing well, we nurses understand how difficult this particular task is for patients, however it does help to understand why we ask this of you. In most women the uterus tilts forward when the bladder is empty, thus filling the bladder pushes the uterus up and straightens the cervix making transfer of those precious embryos easier. We all want those embryos or embryo to get to their destination smoothly and stick!

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